For the longest time
Exerpt" The fact that a patient is "mentally challenged" is not an acceptable means of defense in a malpractice trial. In reality, it is obvious that there is an increased risk of a diagnostic error being made in such a case, when the patient can give a history that is no better than that which could be obtained from an earthworm. However, malpractice defense attorneys would be loath to suggest such a thing, as this might appear as if the physician were guilty of intellectual snobbery. Actually, it's just life in the real world. People who are stupid have an increased chance of doing stupid things, and making errors in judgement (as when they are driving a car, for example) for which they may pay dearly. It is an indisputable fact that they have a higher death rate, and no amount of liberal pressure to phrase their shortcomings in euphemistically acceptable terminology is ever going to benefit them. Actually, by attempting to mitigate the stigma of the intellectually vacuous, they are perpetuating their misery. A problem cannot be overcome unless it is recognized, accepted, and dealt with. Anyone's intelligence can be improved through effort. Coddling the incompetent merely predestines them to a life in which they will never reach their true potential. "
That sounds harsh, but after a few years in this job you get really frustrated with patients not being able to tell you how roughly long they've been having that cough/pain/bleeding. And you know what? Chances are, the longer they take to remember the answer, the shorter the duration is.